Leonore published so many beautiful things and I kept silent, holding a long siesta. Now I feel bad, but a siesta can be very addicting, especially when you listen to good music and the sun sings the song of summer.
Manitas de Plata is the stage-name of Ricardo Baliardo. I hope you all know this already and my post is just a reminder, but if not: click here for some background ambience.
He is something of a legend of flamenco music and I have never heard a guitar being handled the way he does. Pure acoustic fireworks. Manitas is very closely related (uncle and father) to the Gipsy Kings. I will not talk about them, as they are already very famous and implement all sorts of pop-music devices, rhythms, topics, arrangement, that I don’t particularly like. Manitas is more at the roots of Flamenco, there is the guitar, a smoky voice, and nothing more. This is what you can imagine hearing, in some patio in spain, with their wonderfully harsh read wine, relaxing during the hot hours of the day.
But the real reason for me to talk about him, is Leonores love for the arts. For at the very beginning of Manitas’ recording career lie, or better sit some very well known artists. It was Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Lucien Clergue who recommended Manitas’ music to an american recording studio. Back then, somewhere in the 60s Manitas’ wasn’t recording and didn’t even think about traveling by ship across the ocean, so that the studio was forced to take their stuff to Europe, to Arles, France. Imagine this wonderful situation, where painters, photographers and musicians exchange their thoughts, riding on the waves of spontaneous inspiration, that good music arouses, when falling into the sun warmed pond of well-being, like heavy raindrops.
I don’t know about his later works, there are many and I wish this remaining figure of the artistic before-postmodern period still many years to enjoy, but this first recording in Arles is a classic.
You can find some excerpts on youtube, but if you like this kind of music, search this 1963 phenomenon. Not only was the music well played, but well presented and well arranged on tape, it is really like a casual siesta, where creativity flows freely among artists.